How to Do a School Waste Audit by loe13858



How to Do a School Waste Audit
The objective of a school waste audit is to introduce the idea to your students and staff
that garbage doesn't just disappear once it is collected in your garbage can. You can't
just throw it away. It can be compacted, buried, or changed to ash and gas but the
garbage must all go somewhere. This audit will show students that most “waste” at
school can, in fact, be reused or recycled. You can conduct a waste audit of your
classroom, school or home using the following steps.

Audit A Have teachers and students save the garbage from their
        classroom for one day.
Audit B Have students conduct a one day audit of classroom and
        food service waste for one lunch period for the entire
Audit C Have students conduct a visual waste audit of the contents
        of the school bins.

Materials needed:

Waste audit A:

   •   Labelled garbage bins or containers for each classroom or area. These will be
       used to sort two types of waste (wet waste and dry waste see table below)
   •   Plastic garbage bags for each of the containers
   •   Two washable plastic tarps
   •   Plastic gloves for each student
   •   Change of clothes and washable shoes to wear for the activity
   •   Parent/guardian permission slip

Waste audit B:

   •   Four garbage bins labelled (two for wet waste and two for dry waste)
   •   Plastic garbage bags for each of the containers
   •   A scale for weighing the materials.
   •   Two washable plastic tarps
   •   Plastic gloves for each student
   •   Change of clothes and washable shoes for students
   •   Parent/guardian permission slip

Waste Audit C:

   •   Gloves and goggles for the students conducting the audit
   •   Litter pick-up stick (Your school maintenance staff may have this item)
   •   Parent/guardian permission slip
Procedure for waste audits A & B:

A. Find out if parents and your school administrators will allow the
   waste audits. Send home permission slips. Students who are not
   allowed to participate can be responsible for writing the analysis
   of the audit and charting the activity.

B. Notify your school principal of the waste audit. Coordinate with
   your canteen staff to make sure that wet waste generated from the
   canteen is separated from the dry waste.

      Wet Waste                     Dry Waste
      Leftover lunch items,         Sweet wrapper, empty potato chip
      sandwiches, fruits, yogurt,   bag, lunch bags, bakery
      cheese, chips, breads,        containers, all types of wrappers
      soups, milk, contaminated     (eg. chocolate, biscuit), empty soft
      paper trays or pizza boxes,   drink bottles, any type of paper,
      used paper towels and         plastic wrap or packaging,
      tissues.                      catalogues, magazines, cardboard,
                                    and paperboard.
C. We recommend contacting your local recycling operator to obtain
   information on the recyclables collected at your site in order to
   recycle the material at the end of the audit. The information from
   your recycler will also help the students to determine what is
   recyclable in your local recycling programs.

D. Make sure your activity is announced to the school and remind
   the students before each lunch period of the activity.

E. It is recommended that you appoint students during the lunch hour
   to help students sort their waste into the appropriate container.

F.   Your class will be divided into teams, the sort team, the weighing
     team, the collection of container team, and the analysis team.

G. If approved, provide the students who will be handling the wet
   waste bags with goggles and heavy gloves. Spread out two
   washable tarps and locate the sorting containers as shown on the
   diagram. Students will empty one bag on to the tarp parallel to the
   containers. Students will not be sorting the wet waste bags, only
H. You are now ready to sort the materials into the appropriate
   collection container and then weigh and track your results.

                        Container Legend
                        WW Wet waste sorting area
                        MP     Mixed paper
                        NP     Newspaper
                        OW     Other waste not classified
                        PW     Plastic wrap and misc plastic
                        AL     Aluminium can, steel cans
                        PB     Plastic Bottles with recycle
                               logo on bottom
                        OCC Cardboard

Procedures for waste audit C:

A. If sorting is not allowed at your site then conduct a visual
   waste audit of the materials found in the bins. Use the litter
   pick-up tool to break apart the bags and inspect what you find
   and fill out the table below.

B. We recommend contacting your local recycler to obtain
   information on what is recyclable through your local recycling


1. Graph your results of the school waste audit.

2. Ask students to conduct a survey of school-wide attitudes
   towards reducing, reusing, recycling and rotting waste. Some
   of the questions may be: Do you recycle everything that you
   can? Would you recycle an aluminium can in a recycling bin
    if it was located a few feet away, or would you put it in the
    trash can, which might be closer? If you are not recycling, why
    not? What would it take to get you to recycle more? Do you
    make double-sided copies? Do you make your own lunch? If
    you do make your own lunch, do you put your lunch in
    reusable containers? Do you have a compost bin? Compile the
    result of your survey and share it with your school.

3. How can you educate each other and the rest of the school in
   order to reduce/re-use/recycle materials?

4. How many people say they are recycling regularly? How many
   say they are not? What are their reasons for not recycling, and
   what do they say would convince them to recycle more (if they
   are now recycling less than they could) or recycle at all (if they
   are currently not recycling)? Discuss, analyze, and brainstorm
   plans to improve participation.

                              Sample Permission Slip

       On (date)_____________our class will be participating in a study of
       waste generated by the school. This will involve the handling of
       school garbage from bins. Students will be provided with gloves and
       goggles, we will train them in safety procedures, and every
       precaution will be taken to ensure your child's safety. A staff member
       will be present. We need your permission for your child to participate
       in this activity. If this meets your approval, please sign the statement
       below. If you have any questions please contact
       _____________________________at ________________School.

       My child, ___________________________________________has
       my permission to participate in the school waste audit to be
       conducted at School.

       Parent signature: ______________________________________

       Date: _______________________________________________

Print a Waste Audit Chart in PDF format

For another waste audit program, go to:

To top